C8C #17 – Bet Sizing

Hello there. Welcome to the Cre8ive Coaching Newsletter. Here is your weekly serving of poker related knowledge regarding on or off the table topics.

In this week’s content, we touch on the idea of bet sizing and when it is a good time to make a bet that is larger than the size of the pot.

Tristan Wade’s Topic Today:

Betting is the most important tactic in no-limit holdem. Most of our bets are made within the size of the pot, with the purpose of building a pot for value or trying to fold out hands that beat us. There are times when pots get so big, we only have one or two times the size of the pot left to wager. There are also times when we are playing so deep-stacked, that we have the flexibility to make larger bets than the size of the pot. These can be opportune times to either apply the most pressure with a bluff, or go for maximum value with the nuts.

First, betting bigger directly affects the price we are laying our opponent to see our holdings. It creates more fold equity. If we bet 50k into 100k on the river, our opponent would be getting 3-1 and need to win 25% of the time to make their call profitable. If our bet is increased to twice the pot, 200k into 100k, our opponent’s “proper” odds to call would be greatly increased; In this instance, to 40%. [I say “proper”, because not everyone takes into consideration the math in these situations.] This also allows for us to win 4x more on the river if we aren’t bluffing.

Imagine shoving the river for 1.5x the pot with the nut flush blocker in a pot you’ve been the aggressor. Let’s say you hold AhJx on a Th8h7d4c3h board. You raised preflop, bet the flop, bet the turn (bluffing, but with equity, being able to hit a 9, jack, ace, and can represent hearts), and then you over-bet move all in on the river heart. This is a very strong line! A lot of players would have a hard time calling with one pair, possibly two pairs, and some tighter players might even fold a set in this scenario.

The flip side of this large bet comes from the bettors perspective. If we aren’t bluffing, the difference in river bet sizes means a big increase to what we would have won if we bet smaller. In the example above, if you actually had the nuts with AhJh, then you would be getting more value from your hand if you did shove. Now you might be thinking “If I shove 1.5x pot and they fold one pair, possibly two pairs, and maybe sets on that river why would I bet that much with the nuts then? I want them to call.” This is true, but if you went with a 50% pot bet and got called, you would only need to get called one out of three times to win the same amount on the river when you shove all in for 1.5x the pot.

Being able to identify what players are more likely to call and fold in these spots is crucial. If you are playing against a calling station, going for the maximum value is probably the best play. If you are up against someone who is very tight and only comfortable on rivers with the nuts or near it, then forcing them to call more than they are prepared to call can win you pots you normally wouldn’t win. Thinking outside the box by using different bet sizing throughout hands will make any poker player that much harder to play against and allow them to be an even more winning poker player.

“Believe what you like, but don’t believe everything you read without questioning it.” – Pauline Baynes